Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids, meaning they can’t be produced by the body and must be consumed in the diet. The two key forms of omega-3 are DHA and EPA. Plants contain another form of omega-3, ALA, which the body can convert to EPA & DHA.
- Food sources rich in EPA/DHA: fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, & albacore tuna.
- Food sources rich in ALA: walnuts, chia seeds, ground flaxseed, & flaxseed oil. Larger quantities are necessary due to a lower rate of conversion to EPA & DHA.
- Omega-3s play crucial roles in brain function, growth and development, & inflammation. Deficiencies in these essential fatty acids have been linked to serious health problems – such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and mood disorders. Not only are omega-3s an effective anti-inflammatory, but research has shown EPA + DHA could also improve symptoms of depression!
- So should everyone start taking fish oil supplements? Not necessarily. If you enjoy fish, try consuming 8 oz. of fatty fish per week. The benefits from consuming these nutritious foods way outweighs just popping an omega-3 supplement. For example – in just one serving of salmon you not only receive the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, but also protein, vitamin D, & several B vitamins. In just one serving of flaxseed oil, you also consume fiber, protein, & magnesium.
- Although I always recommend food first, if you’re having a hard time consuming enough omega-3 rich foods in your diet and need to take a supplement make sure you're using a safe and certified product. Omega-3 supplements are best taken with food, & the brand I most frequently recommend is Nordic Naturals Ultimate, which is NSF certified for sport.
- For anti-inflammatory benefit, target daily consumption is 1-2 g of EPA & DHA in an approximate 2:1 ratio, which is common in fish oil supplements. As I mentioned above, ALA (plant-based omegas such as flaxseed oil) should be consumed in larger doses - 3-5x higher - due to lower rate of conversion to EPA/DHA.
The below video is taken from my instagram, which you can follow here.